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Ethisphere, which modestly describes itself as "a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices," is out with its 17th annual list of the world's most ethical companies.

The list, which includes 135 companies, celebrates businesses that "have demonstrated a commitment to ethical business practices through programs that positively impact employees, communities, and broader stakeholders, and contribute to sustainable and profitable long-term business performance."

“People look to businesses today to lead on important issues and to do right by all of their stakeholders,” said Ethisphere CEO Erica Salmon Byrne in a prepared statement.  “It takes vision and values to explain your why and create the programs and practices that turn those statements into actions."

No food retailers made the list, though a number of CPG companies did:  Colgate-Palmolive, Grupo Bimbo, Kellogg, Kimberly Clark, and PepsiCo.  Several nonfood retailers also made the list:  Best Buy and Kohl's.  As did Starbucks.

KC's View:

While I think that it is laudable to celebrate ethical companies, it is worth pointing out that some of this is subjective.  For example, the folks trying to unionize at Starbucks and meeting what they would call inappropriate and illegal resistance probably would argue that the company's position and actions are unethical, especially as it concerns employees and "broader stakeholders."

I think lists like these are both interesting and by their very nature limited - you have to apply to make the list.  So the group is essentially self-selecting.

Again, I'm not really criticizing the list.  Just trying to provide a bit of context.